ATM scams: How to spot a cloning device

Benderton / reddit

Card cloning is one of the more infuriating annoyances of the 21st century. Gone are the days of losing your wallet and having to worry if some nefarious individual picks it up before you can cancel your card. Now, your plastic can be safely tucked in your pocket while someone runs riot with your bank account.

The technology is startlingly simple, cheap to operate and (most of the time) almost invisible to the untrained eye.

Explained simply; a small card scanning device is added to the card slot of an ATM. This typically resembles the regular card slot to not arouse suspicion. When you slide your card past it, you're in fact sliding it through a counterfeit reader, which scans the information for storage or transmission via Bluetooth / Wireless to someone nearby.

To gain full access to your account, the scammer will then need your PIN number - they get this by using small strategically placed cameras (that's why you should always cover your PIN) or a fake keypad, placed over the real keypad just like the card slot scanner. Clever right?

To avoid the attack of the clones, there are some go-to tricks which include covering your PIN and looking out for the warning signs of ATM sabotage. But, if you've never seen what a 'hacked' ATM looks like, how can you actually tell the difference?

Enter the good folks of reddit: You'll see these sorts of posts popping up from time-to-time, and they typically feature posters passing on their experiences of dodgy machines to ensure fellow users don't get scammed.

One of the most recent reddit users, who goes by the moniker of Benderton, spotted a suspect device on the ATM they were using and decided to share his thanks.

Benderton 'wiggled' the card reading section of the ATM and discovered the counterfeit reader and presumably proceeded to pull it off.

However, it's important to point out, this this isn't what you should do if you suspect an ATM to be rigged.

A person claiming to be an ATM repair guy replied to the original thread with his top tips.

ATM Repair guy here. I'm not usually one to hijack a comment, but here are some tips.

As stated in other comments, check to see if the card reader seems janky. If it's loose, if it looks like anyone has tampered with it or it is damaged or something about it just looks off, don't use it.

On a Diebold ATM, all of the previous still stands but you should also look for green flashing LEDs on the insert for the card reader. If they are red or nonvisible, do not use the ATM. Tell the bank that they have an issue and either they will check it or a guy like me will show up to check it out.

If you believe you have found a skimmer and you are not at a bank branch or they are closed, LEAVE THE PREMISE, CALL THE COPS AND DO NOT REMOVE IT LIKE OP [Original poster] DID. Your finger prints will be on it which will make it more difficult for the police to recover bad guy prints. Good job. But beyond that, the way these things work is that there is a person nearby watching a bluetooth connection on a laptop. They probably see you. This is a quick way to get mugged.

Good luck and stay safe, folks.

Here's a video a skimmer being removed by the police.

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